University of Wyoming administrators are considering asking the Board of Trustees to revise the school’s housing policy to require all incoming freshmen living more than 30 miles outside of Laramie to live on campus.
Currently, students from Cheyenne, Rock River and Medicine Bow are all exempted from UW’s freshman dormitory requirement.
Freshmen who plan to live within a 60-mile driving distance of Laramie are not required to live on campus — assuming they live with parents, grandparents or legal guardians. Freshmen are also allowed to live off campus if they live at property purchased by parents, though the proposed plan by UW administrators would eliminate that exception.
UW trustee John McKinley said the full board of trustees still not reviewed the proposal, but he said some version of the idea is likely to be presented at the board’s November meeting.
Sean Blackburn, vice president for student affairs, acknowledged Thursday the proposal is “one that will cause a lot of concerns,” and said the policy revision would likely be implemented slowly to accommodate families who are already making alternative housing plans for Fall 2019.
“A lot more vetting needs to happen,” he said.
Currently, 200-300 students are exempted each year from the dorm policy. Blackburn said the new proposal aims to keep students from dropping out.
“From a retention and student success perspective, anything beyond 30 miles is really tough,” he said.
The proposal comes as UW administrators are working with state legislators on a full overhaul of the campus’s dormitories.
By 2023, UW wants to have six new dorms available, each housing about 350 students.
As part of that plan, UW wants fewer traditional dorms and more “living-learning communities.”
Such housing has a greater integration of academics with a student’s residence.
Blackburn said those dorms tend to improve learning and retention while also providing “a sense of identity.”
“It’s Harry Potter — they understand if they’re a Slytherin or a Hufflepuff,” he said.
A few options UW admins are exploring for the new dorms are “residential colleges” and “theme housing.”
Residential colleges unite students with similar educational goals in designated atmospheres. Those dorms would also house faculty offices, academic advisors, classrooms, labs, libraries and galleries.
Themed housing would concentrate certain students based on shared academic, cultural and personal interests — like sustainability or “women in STEM.”
One of the goals for the new housing is to create a wide variety of “price points,” which allow students to live in housing varying in desirability based on their budget.
UW administrators are currently in the process of consulting with an number of other universities about housing options. They also plan to take a few site visits to those universities as part of the consultation process.
A 30-question survey of current students has also been developed with the help of ASUW. That survey will be distributed Oct. 22-Nov. 2 and will ask students about their preferences for room configurations, amenities and desired dorm locations.